For Illinois residential and businesses consumers, paying their monthly utility bills is quickly turning into the “death by a thousand cuts” torture. Electricity is the bigger — albeit not the only — culprit.
With electricity companies rushing to file legislation in Springfield and rate cases in front of the Illinois Commerce Commission, the collective voice of consumers urgently needs to be raised.
The biggest issue in front of state lawmakers is Exelon’s bailout legislation (Senate Bill 1585 and its House version, HB 3293). The bill seeks a $1.6 billion bailout for three Exelon nuclear plants Downstate – paid for by residential and businesses customers.
Exelon claims that these plants are losing money. However, Exelon’s SEC filings prove otherwise, and state agencies have been unable to verify these claims because Exelon refuses to open its books.
Exelon should open its books to legislators and, more important, to the public for scrutiny on whether those three plants need to be bailed out.
Furthermore, because of changes in electric grid rules that Exelon pushed for, Illinoisans are already paying higher electric bills. With additional market-based solutions from PJM on their way, Exelon’s bailout legislation is both duplicative and unnecessary.
Let us not forget, additionally, that in 2014 Exelon made over $2 billion in profits, while struggling Illinois homeowners and businesses’ pocketbooks are stretched to the limit.
The recent and unexpected MISO capacity auction Downstate will result in an annual increase of utility bills by $140 for Ameren electricity users despite the substantial power surplus in the region, including Illinois. This also benefits Exelon even if, as they claim, they make “only” $13 million as a result of the auction.
Ratepayers, especially working families, older residents and small businesses are suffocating under the crushing weight of monthly bills. It’s urgent that consumers speak up, and urge their legislators in Springfield to vote “NO” on SB1585 and HB3293.
Bob Gallo is state director for AARP Illinois, representing 1.7 million members in the state.